Chad: Another Phony Peace

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July 20, 2009: Sudan blames France for supporting Chadian air raids in Darfur. Then again, it was France which led the move to have the president of Sudan indicted as a war criminal. Nevertheless, Sudan says it is willing to make peace with Chad. This means little, as this has been done before. The problem is that neither side will stop supporting the other sides rebels. Currently, Sudan is on the losing side of this, as the Chad leadership has been negotiating peace deals with the tribal leaders (along the Sudan border), who have long supported Chad rebels. The rebellions on both sides of the border are basically tribal conflicts (either within the tribes or between tribes.) There are lots of tribes, and someone always seems to have a problem with someone else. Such warfare is endemic to the region.

Both Darfur rebel groups and the Chad military conduct recruiting in the refugee camps. The best prospects are teenage boys (15-17), who generally have little to do (no school or jobs). The UN tries to stop this, but it's difficult to argue with armed men who feel they are doing the kids a favor. The JEM rebels (a Darfur group) are particularly active, even though Chad insists (at least to Sudan) that groups like JEM are not present in the refugee camps. JEM fighters tell anyone who asks them that they have permission from the Chad government to enter the camps to get supplies or to fix their vehicles. The refugee camps are like new towns, with entrepreneurial refugees setting all manner of businesses. The EU (European Union) peacekeepers who arrived last year are not numerous enough to keep JEM, and other Darfur rebels, out of the camps.

The border region has been fought over for several decades and there are lots of unexploded munitions lying about, usually around towns (the usual scene of battles.) Recently, demining teams cleared 3.7 tons (13,100 items) of these munitions from around the town of Goz Beida.

July 18, 2009: JEM released 55 Sudanese soldiers and five policemen it had captured. This was a good will gesture to help move along peace talks with the Sudanese government. Similar talks between Sudan and Chad are stalled again.

July 17, 2009: Sudan has closed its border with Chad, to protest the recent Chad Air Force raid on a Sudanese town. Chad accused Sudan of allowing Chad rebels to cross the border and plant landmines along roads inside Chad.

July 16, 2009: Chad accused Sudan of sending two Su-35 ground attack aircraft to raid a Chad rebel camp in the west Darfur town of Umm Dukhun. Chad denied doing any such thing. The Chad rebels (Union of Forces of Resistance, or UFR) claim that they suffered fifty dead and over a hundred wounded.

July 2, 2009: The China National Petroleum Corp began construction of an oil pipeline from the oil fields 300 kilometers south of the capital, to a refinery just north of the capital (N'Djamena). Oil production began six years ago, and now pumps 170,000 barrels a day. Chinese firms are heavily involved in this. The major U.S. activity in the area is providing refugee aid ($4 billion worth in the last five years) to refugees (on both sides of the border) of the unrest in western Sudan (Darfur). The U.S. is the largest provider of such aid.

June 24, 2009: The UN was flown in more fuel (for vehicles and generators) to make up for a nationwide fuel shortage, partly caused by the border unrest last May. Most of the vehicles and generators in eastern Chad belong to aid groups and peacekeepers, and this has increased demand for fuel, which is normally trucked in. Flying it in is increases the cost several times.

 

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